Data Visualization class taught between Hilo and Manoa via CyberCANOE

In the Spring 2016 semester, a new system –CyberCANOE– was installed at Imiloa Astronomy Center, the first of its kind in the Big Island. A brainchild of University of Hawai’i-Mānoa Faculty in Computer Science, Jason Leigh, the acronym CyberCANOE stands for Cyber Enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment, a display technology that enables users from science to education to the arts, local or distributed, to work together using cool software tools. The CyberCANOE at Imiloa is co-funded by Chris Lee from the Academy for Creative Media System and the National Science Foundation. Imiloa is using this opportunity to teach a class on data visualization between faculty from University of Hawai’i-Mānoa and University of Hawai’i-Hilo, John Burns and Misaki Takabayashi from Marine Science, Jie Cheng and Jason Leigh from Computer Science, and Jon Goebel and Julieta Aguilera from Art and Creative Media.

According to Leigh, this class is changing things around in a way that takes advantage of how Arts are traditionally taught, encouraging students to put their projects out for open criticism to work and problem solve. Cheng adds that Computer Science students have a great opportunity to work on real world data (with Marine Science students) and with Art students that can enable all to discover patterns and tell interesting stories, bridging the gap between scientific research and the public. For Goebel, class projects allow each discipline to contribute their expertise in solving a visualization problem. Being able to see things one does not normally see, is one of the things that Imiloa really does effectively, visuaizing outer space inside the planetarium dome. Scientists are dealing with information, and sometimes they need creative means, and that is where the artists come in. “That’s what we do, we think visually.”

Leigh notes that most problems we have to solve in the world today are not just about the one diagram that gives you the Nobel Prize but a number of different factors, different pictures that have to come together like a jigsaw puzzle. You can think of the CyberCANOE as this giant canvas where you put up pieces of information, and by moving them around next to each other you form the secret hidden inside the data. The CyberCANOEs being built in Hawai’i all have varying capabilities, some of them have stereoscopic 3D or tracking. The sky is the limit as to what you can put in these devices… scans of historical sites become historical preservation, so that centuries from now we can still visit those places even though they might be long gone. And if you are wheelchair bound, you can still go there with technologies like Virtual Reality (VR). Some may consider VR an isolating experience but if done right, it can actually be very rewarding. Imagine putting a 3D camera on the International Space Station, or the Moon, or on Mars. Very few of us will ever have the opportunity to go there, but with VR technology, you can. Burns and the department of Marine Science at UH-Hilo do a lot of 3D modeling and 360 video for reef sites from Hawai’i, for this exact reason, that people can get immersed in a location without having to be there, specially in restricted sites like the Papahānaumokuākea National Monument, where you can can look at data, but also at the physical environment, and bridge that connection, perhaps doing a tour, from the scale of reefs throughout the globe, all the way down to a molecular level, transcending spatial scales and giving people a huge amount of information in a concise product.

Marine Scientists may spend years working on a study that gets brought to the public through a scientific journal, reaching a small community of scientists. For Burns, outreach is a chance to connect with communities, to answer the simple questions: why does it matter if we have healthy coral reefs or not? what does it mean to people? It is an opportunity for students to continue their passion and spread the message on the importance of their work. This class is making presentations that will be exhibited at Imiloa, and if successful, students will get to see how people respond, perhaps help produce better exhibits, and something that was cultivated here between two UH campuses, can reach broader attention. To give the students the opportunity to try and address that with their projects is great, because this kind of environmental issue matters to everyone.

In the past, Aguilera points out, exhibits were developed so there were many people in between scientists and the public, who would summarize messages that people from all disciplines and ages would understand, and when you do that, a lot is lost and what is left may not be a very passionate subject. Research makes content accessible in more exploratory ways. Today it is nearly impossible to create an exhibit at a Museum that will withstand even months without something changing about it, because of new research and data. This class is adding up to that phenomena, as museums are becoming a lot more fluid, where scientists are showing their research as it happens. In the future, Cheng can see the big picture where the CyberCANOE system expands in Hawai’i including disciplines and collaboration between different campuses, introducing data that is unique to Hawai’i, that can be visualized for the world to see, starting at Imiloa.

Gazan receives IMLS Grant: Online Q&A in STEM Education: Curating the Wisdom of the Crowd

Associate Professor Rich Gazan was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant for the project “Online Q&A in STEM Education: Curating the Wisdom of the Crowd.” The project received $491,973.00 in funding.

In partnership with Chirag Shah at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, the three-year project will investigate how combining crowdsourced information with the quality assessment standards of librarians and other information professionals can enhance the experience of students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.

A 2013 analysis of 28 million course papers revealed that social networking and other user-generated content sites were cited in 23% of the papers written by college students. This is especially concerning for STEM learners, where the need to scaffold understanding with factual, trustworthy information is paramount. However, meaningful STEM education is not simply discovering and applying facts: it also requires an understanding of the process of inquiry and the conversations surrounding those facts, which is the essence of online Q&A. While all students must learn to assess the quality of their information sources, those who consult online Q&A sites may be engaging in processes of inquiry and discovering nontraditional yet valuable content appropriate to their learning objectives.

This project will explore how both formal and informal information literacy can be effectively integrated into STEM education. Principal Investigator Shah and the Rutgers team will develop and test an online Q&A content assessment tool, while Co-Principal Investigator Gazan’s team will be involved in formative design and evaluation, and will field test the tool in STEM learning environments in Hawaii.

More information:

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit

Seminar: Terence Parr, “Mini-tutorial on building ANTLR 4 grammars”

Programmers run into parsing problems all the time, whether it’s a data format like JSON, a network protocol like SMTP, a server configuration file for Apache, or a simple spreadsheet macro language. My goal with ANTLR 4 was to make it as easy as possible to build parsers and the language applications on top. ANTLR will accept all grammars (minor caveat: no indirect left-recursion) and can produce extremely efficient ALL(*), Adaptive LL(*), parsers. In this talk, I’ll give a mini-tutorial on ANTLR 4 and the Intellij plugin.

Thursday, March 17th, 4:30pm-5:30pm in POST 126

Bio: Terence Parr is a professor of computer science at the University of San Francisco where he continues to work on his ANTLR parser generator. Until January 2014, Terence was the graduate program director for computer science and was the founding director of the MS in Analytics program. Before entering academia in 2003, he worked in industry and co-founded Terence herded programmers and implemented the large jGuru developers website, during which time he developed and refined the StringTemplate engine. Terence has consulted for and held various technical positions at companies such as Google, IBM, Lockheed Missiles and Space, NeXT, and Renault Automation. Terence holds a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from Purdue University.

AT&T Hackathon, Friday, March 11

The 2016 AT&T mobile hackathon is coming up this Friday, March 11, 2016. It is designed for attendees interested in coding mobile apps or hacking hardware solutions. So join us as we hack hardware, build apps/mobile apps, get fed, compete for prizes across different categories and most importantly: meet new people and scout for teammates to work on new or current projects. We will have experts from AT&T and the local community onsite to assist with your development.

For more information, see the hackathon signup page.

You can also watch this news story on KITV featuring Professor David Chin and student Micah Mynatt.

LAVA hosts Mid Pacific High School LiDAR Showcase of Historical Hawaiʻian Site

January 21, 2016

The Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA) worked with Mid Pacific High School to showcase their students’ LiDAR scans of Kaniakapupu ruins – the summer palace of King Kamehameha III.

The centerpiece of the showcase was a life-sized stereoscopic 3D virtual reality walkthrough of the historical site using LAVA’s 20-foot, 2x4K resolution CyberCANOE (the Cyber-enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment). The demonstration was created through a collaboration between Mid Pacific students and LAVA Master’s student, Eric Wu.

LiDAR Visualization in CyberCANOE Mid Pacific at LAVA  Mid Pacific at LAVA Mid Pacific at LAVA

Students also showed 360-degree images of the site that were taken with a 360-degree GoPro camera system. Viewers were able to see the location in full 360 degree surround using Samsung Gear Virtual Reality headsets.

Mid Pacific Institute students at LAVA

The LiDAR scanner and 360-degree camera were donated by the CyArk Foundation and GoPro. This work was also partially funded by a National Science Foundation project entitled “Development of the Sensor Environment Imaging (SENSEI) Instrument”  to build the SENSEI (SENSor Environment Imaging) instrument that will capture still and motion, 3D full-sphere omnidirectional stereoscopic video and images of real-world scenes, to be viewed in collaboration-enabled, nationally networked, 3D virtual-reality systems. Additional funding for supporting the CyberCANOE was provided by the Academy for Creative Media System at the University of Hawaiʻi.

Mid Pacific Institute's LiDAR scanner at LAVA Mid Pacific Institute's 360 camera at LAVA

Additional pictures>>>

HiCHI in the news: How Does Social Media Affect Our Political Decisions?

Social media affects political decisions – for better or worse, University of Hawaii at Manoa researchers say.

As the election season heats up, it’s important to understand how sites like Facebook and Twitter could be affecting voters’ political opinions. UH researchers from the Hawaii Computer-Human Interaction Lab recently produced a study that looked at how adults born after 1980 make decisions about candidates by using social media.

The group of researchers — Sara Douglas, Roxanne Raine, Misa Maruyama, Bryan Semaan and Scott Robertson — found that posts on social media can change millennials’ stances on issues and the way they feel about how public officials serve the community.

For the full story, see the Civil Beat article.

What makes food sound tasty? ICS researchers find out.

Yelp reviews are a part of modern dining. And good reviews are good business for eateries.

But what makes good eats sound delicious on Yelp?

That’s what two University of Hawaii information science researchers – Weranuj Ariyasriwatana and Luz Marina Quiroga – wanted to find out as part of a study that could be useful for food marketers and businesses — and maybe even a few foodies.

The researchers looked at 250 Yelp reviews for 40 highly-rated Hawaii eateries, picking out “expressions of deliciousness.”

For more details, see the Hawaii News Now story.

LAVA releases SAGE2 Koʻolau at Supercomputing 2015 Conference

November 17, 2015 – Austin, Texas

The Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications collaborates with the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago to release SAGE2 version 1.0, called Koʻolau, at the annual Supercomputing conference, held this year in Austin, Texas. The software was released at the 7th SAGE Birds of a Feather meeting and demonstrated at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) booth.


SAGE2 v1 at Supercomputing 2015

SAGE2 is software to enable users to manage large scale display walls as one unified collaboration environment able to bridge distance. SAGE2 is funded by a $5M award from the National Science Foundation to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Additional support comes from the Academy for Creative Media System to deploy SAGE2-enabled CyberCANOEs on the campuses of the University of Hawaiʻi system.


University of Hawai‘i Data Visualization Expert to Build the Top System in the Nation


The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will be home to the best data visualization system in the United States, thanks to a major research infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF provided $600,000 and the University of Hawai‘i (UH) added $257,000 for a total of $857,000 to develop a large CyberCANOE, which stands for Cyber-enabled Collaboration Analysis Navigation and Observation Environment. The CyberCANOE is a visualization and collaboration infrastructure that allows students and researchers to work together more effectively using large amounts of data and information.  It was designed by Computer and Information Science Professor Jason Leigh, who is also the founder and director of the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Applications (LAVA) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

UH’s CyberCANOE represents the culmination of over two decades of experience and expertise for Leigh, the grant’s principal investigator, who developed immersive virtual reality environments while at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago- notably the CAVE2 System, which is sold commercially today by Mechdyne.

The UH CyberCANOE will provide an alternative approach to constructing ultra-resolution display environments by using new and completely seamless direct view light emitting diode displays, rather than traditional projection technologies or liquid crystal displays. The net effect is a visual instrument that exceeds the capabilities and overcomes the limitations of the current best-in-class systems at other U.S. universities.

“This comes at the best time for Hawai‘i as the number of students interested in information and computer science is skyrocketing. Last year about 170 freshman computer science students entered the program, this year we will receive 270,” said Leigh. “The University of Hawai‘iʻs CyberCANOE will give these students access to better technology than what will be available on the continent.”

The new 2D and 3D stereoscopic display environment with almost 50 Megapixels of resolution will provide researchers with powerful and easy-to-use, information-rich instrumentation in support of cyberinfrastructure-enabled, data-intensive scientific discovery.

Increasingly, the nation’s computational science and engineering research communities work with international collaborators to tackle complex global problems. Advanced visualization instruments serve as the virtual eyepieces of a telescope or microscope, enabling research teams and their students to view their data in cyberspace, and better manage the increased scale and complexity of accessing and analyzing the data.

“I’m highly excited about this multidisciplinary collaboration between information and computer sciences, the Academy for Creative Media System and electrical engineering,” said co-principal investigator and UH Mānoa Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering David Garmire.  “It will advance the state of the art in research infrastructure for information-rich visualization and immersive experience while providing unique opportunities for the student body.”

At least 46 researchers, 28 postdocs, 833 undergraduates and 45 graduate students spanning disciplines that include oceanography, astrobiology, mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering, biomedical research, archeology, and computational media are poised to use the CyberCANOE for their large-scale data visualization needs. The CyberCANOE will also open up new opportunities in computer science research at the intersection of data-intensive analysis and visualization, human-computer interaction and virtual reality.

UH System’s Academy for Creative Media (ACM) founder and director Chris Lee, who is also a co-principal investigator on the grant, said, “ACM System is thrilled to be able to continue to support Jason Leigh and his team in securing a second NSF Grant.  This new CyberCANOE builds upon the two earlier ‘mini’ CyberCANOEs, which ACM System fully financed at UH Mānoa and UH West O‘ahu.”

The new CyberCANOE, which is expected to be built in about three years, will enable Leigh’s advanced visualization laboratory to provide scientific communities with highly integrated, visually rich collaboration environments; to work with industry to facilitate the creation of new technologies for the advancement of science and engineering; and to continue ongoing partnerships with many of the world’s best scientists in academia and industry.  With the CyberCANOE, the lab will also support the country’s leadership position in high-performance computing and in contributing advancements to complex global issues, such as the environment, health and the economy.

For more about Professor Jason Leigh and the University of Hawai‘s CyberCANOE see:

About the University of Hawai‘i System

Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawai‘i System includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the state. As the sole public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers an array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees and community programs.  UH enrolls more than 60,000 students from Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland and around the world.  For more information visit

[Article from Honolulu Star Advertiser available here]

[Coverage from Hawaii News Now available here]

Seminar: Jeff Mikulina, Blue Planet Foundation, “Hawaii’s Energy Future”

Friday, October 30, 2015
11:00am, Hamilton Library Basement, Room 2K.

Abstract: Energy is the lifeblood of Hawaii’s economy and way of living. But our current energy system is at odds with a healthy economy and livable climate. Responding to this challenge, this year Hawaii became the first state in the nation—and one of the only places on Earth—to commit to 100% renewable energy. Blue Planet Foundation has been at the forefront of the policy changes and community engagement driving Hawaii’s transition to clean energy. Jeff’s presentation will explore some of the key aspects of our changing energy landscape, including distributed renewable energy, energy storage, new utility business models, and opportunities for innovation.

Bio: Jeffrey Mikulina is the Executive Director of the Blue Planet Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to clear the path for clean energy in Hawai‘i. Through collaboration and advocacy, Blue Planet champions scalable policies and programs to transform Hawaii’s energy systems to clean, renewable energy solutions. Prior to working with Blue Planet, Jeff served as director of the Sierra Club, Hawai‘i Chapter for a decade. His accomplishments in policy advocacy include working to pass legislation that adopts a 100% renewable energy goal for Hawai’i, sets a binding cap on Hawaii’s greenhouse gas emissions, establishes a carbon tax on fossil fuel imports, requires that all new homes use solar water heaters, requires returnable deposits on all beverage containers, provides incentives for renewable energy use, establishes curbside recycling on O‘ahu, and increases the funding of natural resources through tourism taxes.  He received a Master’s of Science degree in engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying decision theory. Jeff’s interests include disruptive technology, policy, and impact of social norms on behavior.